In September 2018, Microsoft launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller, improving gameplay accessibility for people with mobility disorders, such as cerebral palsy. One month later, the company filed a patent for another Xbox accessory that would allow visually-impaired players to interact with their favorite games using Braille.
The patent — recently published by the World Intellectual Property Office and first spotted by LetsGoDigital — says the accessory, which would be attached to the back of the controller as shown in the figure below, comprises six finger paddles that would provide haptic feedback to blind and otherwise visually-impaired players, allowing them to receive and input Braille characters by pressing the paddles.
The accessory would also be capable of converting text or audio into Braille output, as well as converting voice commands into Braille input.
The patent goes on to explain that enhanced graphics in today’s games and the fast-paced games, such as fighting games like Mortal Kombat 11 and Tekken 7, to name a few, have made gameplay extremely difficult for blind players because the gameplay is lagged by the game’s accompanied audible feedback.
“Although the gaming industry has made some progress to improving a game’s general accessibility,” the patent reads, “a need remains for improved game controllers and accessories that address the very specialized manner in which visually impaired or blind users interact with games.”
We don’t know for certain if the Braille accessory will work for Xbox One just like the Xbox Adaptive Controller because the console was never mentioned in the patent, which, as fickle as patents come, makes sense if you consider the console is nearing the end of its market life cycle.
It’s possible that the accessory might be made for a next-gen Xbox console, which the patent doesn’t mention either; however, it did state that it would be compatible with PC and mobile devices.